Magazine article The Spectator

Why Labour Does Not Need the Jews

Magazine article The Spectator

Why Labour Does Not Need the Jews

Article excerpt

There is no 'Jewish' vote in Great Britain any more. There used to be, back in the time of Cable Street and Mosley and even up to 20 or so years ago. Jews used to vote, en masse, for Labour. But not now. At the last general election, the Jewish vote was split exactly 50-50 between Labour and Conservative.

Further, there aren't that many of them left, the Jews. Their number has shrunk by one third since 1945, largely as a result of their propensity to integrate and their readiness to become assimilated: they marry outside of their communities, much to the consternation of the Chief Rabbi. They have always been happy to identify with British values.

And finally, the 300,000 Jewish people who remain are widely dispersed. There are still some famous Jewish enclaves, of course - Stamford Hill and Golders Green in London, parts of Manchester, Leeds and Bradford and so on. But a large proportion of that 300,000 are scattered to the wind, apparently happily so, from Truro to Thurso.

All of which means that, electorally, there is no point in courting' the Jewish vote, because there isn't one as such. The Jews have become an electoral insignificance and so will not be an issue in the forthcoming general election. Except, however, indirectly. Because it follows that if there's no point in courting the Jewish vote, then equally there is no harm in offending Jewish people if electoral advantage can be gained among another section of the population by so doing.

Certainly, right now, Labour seems to be going out of its way to antagonise the Jews. Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, recently told a Jewish reporter that, in doing the bidding of the Daily Mail group of newspapers, he was behaving in a manner similar to that of those Jews who acted as guards in the Nazi concentration camps. This may simply have been another example of Ken's ad hoc arrogance and offensiveness, with which we are all by now familiar. There may, too, have been some of that unconscious anti-Semitism which has historically infested the far Left; many psychoanalysts believe that the Left's aversion to capitalism is simply a displaced loathing of Jews. But what struck me was not so much Ken's original comment, nor his laughable attempts to justify the fact that he, too, had worked for Northcliffe House as a restaurant reviewer despite '20 years of harassment' from that institution. What really struck me was his refusal to say sorry to the reporter and, more importantly, his readiness to hold press conferences and issue statements where he cheerfully restated his comment and in the process just happened to take a couple of swipes at the Board of Deputies of British Jews and, in passing, attack Israel. What on earth was he up to, the Mayor? Clearly his every utterance made matters worse. What was he hoping to gain?

Perhaps it becomes a little clearer when you look at the behaviour of Ken's New Labour colleagues and, having done that, study the psephology. Recently we have seen Labour unveil two campaign posters that seemed calculated to offend Jewish people: one depicted Michael Howard and Oliver Letwin, two of Britain's most prominent Jewish politicians, as flying pigs. The other displayed Howard peering down his nose holding a fob-watch in a conscious or unconscious echo of Fagin. Labour did not apologise for the posters; rather, Alastair Campbell reportedly bragged that the controversy had secured his party millions of pounds worth of free publicity. …

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